LINGUIST List 9.752

Thu May 21 1998

Disc: Recent Change in English

Editor for this issue: Martin Jacobsen <martylinguistlist.org>


Directory

  1. Mark IRWIN, Re: Recent Changes in English
  2. Norval Smith, Re: 9.735, Disc: Recent Change in English
  3. Karl Reinhardt, Re: 9.735, Disc: Recent Change in English
  4. Jack Aubert, Recent Changes in English

Message 1: Re: Recent Changes in English

Date: Tue, 19 May 1998 12:11:51 +0900
From: Mark IRWIN <padzilcs.hokudai.ac.jp>
Subject: Re: Recent Changes in English

Re: fun

Joel Hoffman writes:

<I came across this by accident, and haven't tested it too widely, but
it seems that the word "fun" used to be solely a noun (and it's only
listed as such in the EOD), but it is now becoming an adjective.>

In my ideolect, 'fun' has quite definitely always been an adjective:
e.g. "that was a fun game", "we're going to have a fun time tonight"
- However, I am a speaker of Northern Ireland dialect and I suspect
that some older speakers of other English dialects may disagree. It is
interesting to note though that:

(i) While the OED, as Hoffman states, lists 'fun' only as a noun and
an archaic dialectical verb, other dictionaries such as Chambers and
the American Heritage do list it as an adjective (although the later
adds the caveat 'informal').

(ii) The fact that it may only recently have become an adjective might
possibly be supported by the fact that 'fun' is the only
single-syllable adjective in English which does not conform to the
comparative/superlative rule (i.e. one cannot say 'funner' and
'funnest') - though maybe there are speakers out there who do.

Mark Irwin, Institute of Language and Culture,
University of Hokkaido, Sapporo, Japan
padzilcs.hokudai.ac.jp
$B%"!<%&%#%s!&%^!<%/!";%KZ;TKL3$F;Bg3X88lJ82=It(B
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Message 2: Re: 9.735, Disc: Recent Change in English

Date: Tue, 19 May 1998 12:13:22 +0200
From: Norval Smith <Norval.Smithlet.uva.nl>
Subject: Re: 9.735, Disc: Recent Change in English

At 18:16 18-05-98 +0100, you wrote:

>
>Date: Mon, 18 May 1998 06:59:35 -0400
>From: "Peter T. Daniels" <grammatimworldnet.att.net>
>Subject: Re: 9.733, Disc: Recent Change in English
>
> The Gambia is the name of a river; The Argentine has not been the
>name of a country within living memory, since Argentina has been
>independent since 1816.
>
>English-speakers do not have trouble with the English name of the
>country Lebanon, even though the Arabic name includes the article and
>even though The Lebanon is the former name of the region and is still
>the name of the mountain, so the "imitating article usage in another
>language" argument won't wash.

Actually, "The Gambia" is the official name of the country (which
basically consists of the banks of the Gambia River (as it is called
in The Times Atlas)). I don't think many people use the "The" apart
from former colonial civil servants. I am sure that the reason for the
article is that the country is basically just the river.

I presume that you mean that "The Argentine" is not the "official"
name. It's still the name of the country for many people, including
myself sometimes, as an alternative to Argent[ee]na. What governments
promulgate is not necessarily of any interest to speakers of
languages.

I only know the mountain as "Mount Lebanon". "The Lebanon" is however
quite familiar as the name of the country!

Usage here seem to be extremely variable.

Norval Smith
Leerstoelgroep Theoretische Taalwetenschap/HIL
University of Amsterdam
Norval Smith
Associate Professor
LS Theoretical Linguistics, University of Amsterdam/
Holland Institute of Generative Linguistics (HIL)
Spuistraat 210, 1012 VT Amsterdam
Tel. 	+31 20 525 3855
Fax 	+31 20 525 3021
Home 	+31 23 536 1833
Email	nsmithhum.uva.nl
	norvalbigfoot.com
URL	http://www.hum.uva.nl/~nsmith
	http://www.leidenuniv.nl/hil/faculty/staff/smith.htm
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Message 3: Re: 9.735, Disc: Recent Change in English

Date: Wed, 20 May 1998 15:47:29 -0500
From: Karl Reinhardt <kreinhardtUH.EDU>
Subject: Re: 9.735, Disc: Recent Change in English

> Date: Sun, 17 May 98 22:20 EDT 
>From: joelexc.com (Dr. Joel M. Hoffman) 
>Subject: 9.733, Disc: Recent Change in English [Re recent
>changes in English] 

>I came across this by accident, and haven't tested it too widely, but
>it seems that the word "fun" used to be solely a noun (and it's only
>listed as such in the EOD), but it is now becoming an adjective.
>-This game is fun. - How fun is it? The second part is accepted
>only by younger speakers, or so it seems. -Joel Hoffman
>(joelexc.com) 

It can also be used is pre-noun position: This is a fun restaurant.
I first had it brought to my attention by a student who demanded to
know how to say 'fun' as an adjective in Spanish, at least a decade
back. Karl
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Message 4: Recent Changes in English

Date: Wed, 20 May 1998 22:06:28 -0400
From: Jack Aubert <jaubertcpcug.org>
Subject: Recent Changes in English

>Lexes's comment that the indefinite article "an" is disappering was,
>I believe, not a comment on "a" being substituted for "an." Rather,
>the articles "a," "an," and "the" are all evolving out of English.
>
>
>The dropping of the article began in front of geopolitical terms and
>acronyms.
>Note: 
>
>A) THE UKRAINE > UKRAINE

Yes, all of them. "The Lebanon" and "The Sudan", once standard terms,
are rarely heard these days. Even "The Gambia", which valiantly
attempts to hang on to its article as a matter of national pride or
something generally just gets called "Gambia."
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